Shopping in India and Bangkok
Trip Start Oct 01, 2002
158Trip End Aug 08, 2005
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Leaving with only 9kg of luggage in order to make room for all those goodies we were intent on buying, we arrived in Delhi late on the 16th July. Stepping back into the mayhem of the taxi stand it immediately felt as though the past 6 months of being back in reality hadn't happened. A manic night taxi ride took us back to Paharganj, tourist central in Delhi, and we still had the energy to wander around the hotels to find one that wasn't as bad as we remembered it to be
The next day we managed to squeeze in a bit of shopping whilst we re-aquainted ourselves with the intensity of India. We found our way back to the train station and booked tickets out, then survived a manic cycle rickshaw back to the hotel which we tried to video for memory sake but unfortunately failed. Our next destination was to be Pushkar and we had quite a revelation on the journey there. The air conditioned chair car carriage on the train was comfy, spacious, cool and even had waiter service to bring us flasks of hot water and tea making kits along with some dubious looking food! We were rather bemused by the whole affair as we didn't even get that kind of service when we travelled first class on one of our earlier trips. We were suitably impressed and quite distraught that we hadn't discovered it sooner. We were soon back to reality though as after the train, a rickshaw, a local bus and a hand pushed trolley cart along bumpy mud roads finally took us to Pushkar.
Famed for its November camel fair and sacred water where Brahmin priests will bless you for an extortionate donation, we had missed it out on our last visit
Before we left Jodhpur we paid another visit to the spice market, got ripped off and then having found out that getting to the desert town of Jaisalmer was going to be too much hassle and too painful we left early one morning on a 'luxury' bus (actually it wasn't that bad a bus this time) bound for Udaipur. Udaipur had been one of our favourite cities during our first visit to India, despite its obvious tourist status, and we decided to go back, relax, enjoy and generally absorb the sights and smells India has to offer. We arrived around midday and opted for a room with a view overlooking the romantic and idyllic lake and luxury palace hotel famous for Bond's Octopussy. And there our dream ended abruptly. As we searched for the spectacular views we began to question our bearings and wonder if we were experiencing a typical Indian marketing ploy, and just what was that field full of cows doing in the middle of town? We really couldn't recall it from our first visit. But then we realised that the nice white building in the middle of the field was indeed the palace of former Bond glory and the lake was the field, it had dried up!! It was really quite funny and the cows thought it was fantastic having relocated themselves from the narrow smoggy roadside to the vast fertile plain before them, fields full of cows are indeed a rarity in India, they usually live in the middle of the roads..
We planned to stay in Udaipur for 4 nights and fully recover from our stomach bugs. We had a great time re-aquainting ourselves and really went to town on the shopping front as everything is so ridiculously cheap. We also fitted in a fantastic Indian cookery class with a local guy named Shakti who turned out to be a great friend when everything went pear shaped a couple of days later. We were booked on a flight to Mumbai on the evening of the 27th in time for an early morning connecting flight to Bangkok where we were going to spend 4 days shopping and eating before flying on again. When we went to say our goodbyes on the 26th the obvious question was 'where are you going?' however, when we replied 'Mumbai' we were met with snorts of laughter as everyone told us that Mumbai had effectively closed down due to the worst monsoon in history. Still, we were quietly confident that the major international airport would soon re-open but the next morning we were told our flight from Udaipur to Mumbai was first delayed then cancelled altogether as it was impossible to land. Frantic calls ensued by us to Cathay Pacific where the news just got worse as they told us the airport in Mumbai was closed indefinitely due to flooding. And so there we were, stranded in Udaipur and our 4 day trip in Bangkok shrinking by the hour. We were promised faithfully numerous times that we were definitely on the first flight out but of course we weren't on it when it left on the evening of the 28th. Thankfully our flight to Bangkok didn't leave either. We eventually escaped on the morning of the 29th after countless cups of masala tea from Shakti whilst he made the necessary phone calls to make sure we got out of Udaipur. When we finally arrived at the international airport at 11 am it was chaos, bodies sleeping everywhere but worse was that they were on emergency electricity only, which meant few lights and zero air conditioning
Well we finally got to Bangkok and into our hotel around midday on the 30th. Enough time to spend the rest of the day catching up on lost sleep and shopping frantically on the Koh Sarn Road. The next day was spent shopping at the weekend market, still we managed to get heaps of stuff so maybe it was just as well we didn't have much time!! We left our whistlestop tour of Bangkok early on the morning of August 1st, this time bound for a place neither of us had visited before, Hong Kong.